Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/metro/12733.php
Jim Crow laws endure
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
"It ain't over till it's over," someone semi-famous once said.
It was a sporting reference but it could apply, as well, to our segregationist
Jim Crow laws.
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Brown vs. Board
of Education, outlawing segregated schools. People have come to believe the
monumental ruling eliminated the laws that kept segregated schools alive.
But 50 years later, Jim Crow laws remain on the books in some states, with
far-reaching effects, according to a unique University of Arizona study.
At least eight southern states have Jim Crow laws that continue to influence
"Although some of these statutes are apparently defunct, others reflect
governmental promotion of racial separation which has continuing effects even
now, including the allocation of taxpayer funds in the service of segregation,"
according to the Jim Crow Study Group. The group is working under the Law,
Criminal Justice and Security Program at the university's James E. Rogers
College of Law and School of Public Administration and Policy.
Made up of professors and students, the group undertook the study in recognition
of the importance of the Brown decision, which is rightly trumpeted as the
undoing of American apartheid.
UA law professor Gabriel J. Chin wondered what laws remained out there. And what
he and his colleagues found surprised them.
In Louisiana, a law still guarantees a public teacher's salary if that teacher
chooses not to follow a desegregation order. Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and
South Carolina have laws that allow the closing of integrated public schools.
In Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, laws allow the payment of tuition for
students who wish to attend segregated private schools.
In Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, private school teachers may join state pension
programs for public school teachers, making it easier for public school teachers
to flee if they object to integration.
Alabama's constitution allows parents to send their children to segregated
private schools with public funds.
While few of these onerous laws are in play today, the fact that they remain on
the books sends powerful messages, creating ripples across the country, said
Chin, co-director of the study group.
What the study shows is that in the push to resist desegregation, public support
for public schools weakened. Public monies and resources were used to establish
private segregated schools, said Chin.
Roger Hartley, the other co-director, said the study is important in other ways,
even for Arizona and other states with no Jim Crow laws.
The study also sounds a warning that the move toward more charter schools and
school vouchers has the potential to increase segregation, Chin said.
For Rona Nichols, a second-year law student who worked on the study, the
endurance of Jim Crow laws reminds her of the racial tension she encountered
while attending a South Carolina college. She is white and her close friends
Striking all Jim Crow laws can help heal the wound of segregation, the study's
It ain't over till they're over.
° Ernesto Portillo Jr.'s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays
and Saturdays. Reach him at 573-4242 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He appears on
"Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV Channel 6, at 6:30 p.m. and midnight Fridays.